Ryan Day’s hopes of winning three consecutive tournaments came to an end as he lost 6-3 to Mark Williams in the quarter-finals of the Ladbrokes Players Championship.
Day has been in tremendous form in recent weeks, winning the Gibraltar Open and Romanian Snooker Masters. He was aiming to become the first player to capture three titles in a row since John Higgins back in 2001. But having won 12 consecutive matches, Day’s streak was ended in a Welsh derby in Llandudno as Williams went through to a semi-final meeting with Shaun Murphy or Anthony McGill on Saturday night.
Williams is also enjoying a purple patch, having won two ranking titles this season – the Northern Ireland Open and German Masters. The Cwm cueman turned 43 yesterday but is revelling in his best form since he won his last world title in 2003.
It was near flawless snooker in the early stages from Williams tonight as he won the first four frames with top breaks of 124, 72 and 96, scoring 317 points without reply in one spell. Day fought back after the interval, compiling runs of 77 and 60 as he recovered to 4-3.
Williams potted a cracking long red at the beginning of frame eight and went on to make a 141 total clearance – the new front-runner for the £5,000 high break prize. He built a lead of 53 points in the ninth, and although Day battled on and got the snookers he needed, Williams potted the final yellow and fluked the green to seal victory.
“Ryan probably looked the stronger player at 4-3,” said world number six Williams. “Then I made a big break to go 5-3 up and that swung the game back in my favour. I have been playing like that more or less all season, potting long balls and making good breaks.
“When I was 4-0 up at the interval, people were saying to me ‘well done’ as if I had won, but I knew Ryan would come back at me. He was 4-0 down in the final in Romania and still won. The only time I got a bit twitchy was towards the end when he was putting me in snookers.
“I’m not bothered who I play next. Hopefully Shaun Murphy will win 6-5 on the final black tomorrow then have to pull out with a bad back!”
Tonight’s result leaves Day in a precarious 16th position in the Race to the Crucible and he has not qualified for the China Open. He now faces an anxious wait to find out whether he will qualify automatically for the World Championship; with the match between 17th-placed Mark Allen and Noppon Saengkham in Beijing on April 2nd of particular significance. If Allen wins that match then Day will have to go through three qualifying matches to reach the Crucible.
“It was a great match tonight,” said Day. “Mark played as well as he ever has against me. If he keeps playing like that he will be a massive handful for anyone. I didn’t get a look in before the interval. I stuck in there and did well to get back to 4-3. If I could have nicked the frame to get back to 5-4 it could have left Mark wobbling.
“My run was always going to come to an end. Unfortunately it looks as if it has come to an end one match too soon in terms of getting a top 16 place for the World Championship. I’ll take a couple of days away to reflect now and then get myself ready for Sheffield.
“There are other players besides Mark Allen now who can overtake me so I think it’s pretty much inevitable that I will have to go through the qualifiers. I knew that might be the case so I’ll be prepared for it and I’ll be looking forward to it. I have done it before and if I can maintain my recent form I’ll have every chance.”